• 2020-04-11

National Convention on the EU on the Impact of the Crisis on Labour Rights in Serbia

Adherence to the measures for protection and safety at work, layoffs and the issue of absence in the time of crisis were the main topics of discussion at the meeting of the Working Group for Chapters 2 and 19 of the National Convention on the EU, held on 9 April 2020, via the Zoom online platform.

The Executive Director of the Center for Democracy Foundation, Ms Nataša Vučković, emphasised the importance of engaging organisations and working groups in monitoring changes and implementation of regulations pertaining to labour rights, and the state of labour rights during the pandemic and the state of emergency, as well as monitoring the situation in the field.

Mr Ivan Sekulović presented the main findings of the analysis ‘COVID-19 Pandemic and Labour Rights in Serbia’ which also included the acts recently adopted by the Government, and concluded that the state has failed to provide additional, active protection of workers where it was possible to do so.

Mr Mario Reljanović expert associate at the Institute of Comparative Law, stated that the information he gathered in the field is alarming and that there are numerous instances of violation of labour rights, ranging from the violation of protective measures to layoffs, and concluded that there was no systemic reaction from the state regarding absence from work.

A representative of the Trade Union of Medical Doctors and Pharmacists highlighted that during this situation, healthcare faces numerous issues in connection with the safety of medical staff and adequate protective equipment, which is characterised as insufficient and inadequate, judging by the information gathered in the field. Also, there are pieces of information revealing that medical staff are practically prevented from taking sick leave, and that staff is redistributed to different working positions without any formal decisions being rendered. Legal acts rendered in this situation by the Ministry of Health, are not publicly available.

Experts and union representatives have agreed that the state’s response to the crisis is inadequate, and that the current situation is consequential of the absence of a system and organisation in decision implementation. They emphasised the need for the systemic collection of data in the field and the adoption of a package of measures – direct recommendations for improvement of working conditions for all employees. Violation of human rights should be monitored through a prism of public policies in the fields of labour and employment policy, but also through the rule of law. Furthermore, emphasis was placed on the need to include social partners in the creation of measures to stop the current trend of constricted creation and decision-making in the field of social policies.

It was concluded that the Working Group will request the Ministry of Labour issues clear instructions pertaining to the use of adequate protective equipment at work for all employers, making no distinction between private and public sectors.

Working Group for Chapters 2 and 19 invites all citizens to contact its members directly and report cases of violation of labour law regulations, and the Group undertakes to promptly submit all information to the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy as well as to independent institutions, the Protector of Citizens and the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.

Center for Democracy Foundation